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Sustainable Restaurants – Boston’s L’Espalier

Restaurateur Frank McClelland at his Apple Street Farm
One particularly burgeoning sector of the green movement is the organic restaurant. They’ve sprouted all around the country, offering fresh, local food to legions of diners who care about how their eating habits impact the environment (or maybe they only care about eating yummy, nutritious stuff; either way, organic restaurants fit the bill).

Green Among Gray is focusing on a few of these restaurants in various Captivate cities. We begin today with L’Espalier, located in the Back Bay of Boston, Mass.

I’ve not had the pleasure of dining at any of these restaurants, but the accolades each has received speak for themselves. If you’ve eaten at L’Espalier, or any of the restaurants to come in this series, please let us know your impressions either in the comments below or via kscribner@captivate.com.

L’Espalier is known by many simply as Boston's best restaurant. It’s been AAA Five-Diamond rated (pdf) for 10 years and consistently gets top ratings in various magazines and on all the resto-rating Web sites.

So don’t mess with perfection, right? You’d think so. But L’Espalier owner, Chef Frank McClelland (above), wanted to recapture the simplistic, sustainable goodness of his rural New Hampshire roots, and recently introduced sustainable agriculture to the upper echelon of fine dining in Boston.

He revitalized a 14-acre farm a few miles north of Boston, Apple Street Farm, which centralizes his restaurant group’s (in addition to L’Espalier, there’s Sel de la Terre and Au Soleil) sourcing of organically grown produce and proteins (eggs, fowl and pork).

Chef McClelland literally starts his days in the fields on which he lives and cultivates organic-quality vegetables, herbs, fruits and all the rest, and delivers them daily to the restaurants, as well as sells them at a downtown farm stand (Prudential Center Farmer’s Market). The leftovers return to the farm as compost and feed for the livestock, which come back to the restaurants, and so on.

I e-mailed a few questions off to Chef McClelland, and this is what he had to say:

What drives your passion for organic ingredients?
The purity of the products - they are fruits and vegetables in their simplest form. The true, untainted, natural flavors of each product.

Is your move to organic being embraced by your patrons?
Absolutely - they love it. We get many questions about the farm and they love to see "Apple Street Farm" on the menu descriptions.

Do you find customers dining at your restaurants as a result of actively seeking out organic options?
Yes. People are definitely excited about the "farm to table" concept. It's refreshing. Our story is being told and retold.

So that’s Boston’s L’Espalier. Keep an eye on Green Among Gray for an upcoming overview of a sustainable restaurant in your city.

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“Sustainable Restaurants – Boston’s L’Espalier”